Brower Youth Awards

Marisol Becerra

Chicago, IL

In 2003, Marisol volunteered with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) to map and inventory the toxins found within 150 blocks of her predominantly Mexican-American community, Little Village in Chicago. Marisol was enraged to discover that in Little Village more than 60,000 youth in a two-mile radius of the Fisk and Crawford Coal Power Plants are forced to breathe air that violates EPA standards. She was inspired to act, she said, “in order to shut down these coal power plants, build more parks, and clean up the toxics. We must organize more people to stand up and fight.” Her first step was launching the youth branch of LVEJO — Youth Activists Organizing as Today’s Leaders, YAOTL. Based on the data Marisol collected, YAOTL collaborated with Chicago-based Open Youth Networks to devise OurMap of Environmental Justice, an interactive online map that includes 12 youth-created videos, descriptions of toxic sites, and gang territory delineations. With this map, Marisol educated her community about local environmental injustice and motivated them to become involved in campaigns. The map uses poignant facts and videos to educate about the different pollutants and contaminants in Little Village that cause 41 premature deaths and 550 emergency room visits annually.

Profile Film

Award Acceptance Speech